Monday 30 November 2009

Toy Story

After weeks of procrastination and excuse-making, I finally managed to persuade my weary limbs to climb back on the bike to cycle to work. It had gone through a phase of not being quite right...not changing gear, flat tyres, broken hub, broken front cogs which gave me plenty of reason to stay on two wheels with an engine. Of course when it's a 16 mile journey, the weather has to be right too...not too much wind, or indeed rain (strangely I don't mind the rain too much, it's quite refreshing). Not that I've been entirely without pursuit of the boy's quest for Bronze, Duke of Edinburgh Award, we have been making a weekly pilgrimage to the Redbridge Cycling Centre...but an hour round the circuit is not the same as a 32 mile round trip.

And many things have changed in the last few weeks - notably the Olympic site is going up at a's good to see. But one sad change is that they have started to knock down the old Lesney Industries factory. Lesney was, of course, the owner of Matchbox cars. And many, many a happy childhood hour was spent vroom vroom vrooming across the swirly carpet. Matchbox cars had the benefit of being pocket-money size and price, so whilst Corgi toys were bigger and better, they were reserved for Christmas and Birthdays. Hot Wheels were the great upstart...very fast when pushed hard, but most of their models bore no resemblance to any vehicle I've ever seen. So although the factory has been closed for many years, it feels that this is the passing of an era. Car games are now played on the screen with an X-Box or PlayStation - no doubt better in many ways, but I'm not sure it's quite the same experience. Perhaps it's time to pull up the arm chair and get out my pipe and slippers whilst downing a whiskey and reading The Times.

Down in Brighton, another era is about to pass. The boy's toy-room was emptied for redecoration, and now looks splendid, but rather more minimalist. The one toy that remains is the Playstation. The rest were loaded into boxes and sit forlornly in the dining room (well, there was simply no where else for them) waiting to be sorted into 'keep because it is still played with' (remote control cars, planes, boats, robots, and erm dinosaurs), 'keep because it has real sentimental value' (wooden train track), 'chuck because it's broken' (any expensive plastic must-have toy of the moment - Tracey Island) or 'give away' (everything else that's still working and in OK condition). That will be a challenge...especially not allowing sentimentality to get in the way of common sense - and I certainly don't want to be the victim of accusations when the boy is all grown up of "I can't believe you threw away that...I loved it". For the toys that are to be given away, I need to find the right charity...I already donate on a monthly basis to Save the Children, so am tempted to donate to the children of Palestine, who seem to suffer in an unreasonable and unbearable way. Any other suggestions equally welcomed.


  1. I think the bigger charities get a lot because the bigger they become etc etc. Sometimes I think it is nice to seek out the smaller ones that are less likely to get exposure. Personally I like "let the children live" helping Colombias street children as they are really struggling this year. Also Dan from Allthatcomeswithit and Hadrianas Treasures are supporting the Joseph Salmon Trust - it would be really nice to have a blogger round of support and send some extra to the Trust.

    Glad to hear you are back on your bike.

  2. How's about the local orphanage/children's home? They usually need more toys - especially with Christmas drawing near.


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